(view from the stage by neil crud, pics by neil crud and phil newall)
The floodgates opened and the dogs of war unleashed the wrath of god upon us. Basically, it fucking pissed it down all day. So much that I got a call at 3pm to say the A55, A5 and North Wales coast train line were closed due to flooding, and our drummer, Gwion was the wrong side of the water with no paddle. Fuck!
Main-man, Joe and myself are sat in the Marine [sic] in Old Colwyn; it’s my birthday and were drowning [sic – again] our sorrows with a pint of Kronenberg. I can’t go home to Bangor as the roads are closed. We can’t do the gig as Gwion is marooned. We asked ex-Sons of Selina drummer, Cumi if he’d stand in, but he doesn’t know the songs. What a downer…
The decision was made to go to Buckley anyway and enjoy the gig. We may as well leave now as to ensure we got in as a ‘band’ rather than a punter.
The journey was pretty silent… Yeah we wanted to see the Subs, but we were supposed to be supporting them too…
Last Gang in Town and UK Subs were milling around backstage when Joe and myself turned up; bits of drum kit were being set up and amps were being rolled in. I saw soundman (he is a sound man), Chris White and told him our bad news and he said, ‘There’s plenty of drummers knocking about, see if Last Gang’s will stand in for you.’ It’s not that simple though as our songs are not that simple. We met up with Subs mainstay Charlie Harper and relived tales of yore. He was telling us they played on the south coast last night and spent all day travelling up here and then a long journey to Glasgow tomorrow, he was concerned as the weather may have prevented them from getting here today. We said how gutted we were that Gwion was stranded and we couldn’t do the show. Charlie quipped, ‘Ask Jamie, he’ll do it. He’s a great drummer.’
Joe and me were still dubious, no one can learn your songs in an hour and we didn’t want to make cunts of ourselves.
The UK Subs did their soundcheck, and we thought, ‘Fuck it, let’s ask him,’ and approached Jamie with Charlie’s suggestion. ‘Yeah, of course I’ll do it! Get me a copy of the songs and I’ll learn them.’ (!!!)
With 4 of our tracks on Soundcloud, Jamie sat in the dressing room nursing a hangover and taking in our songs as we tucked into curry and rice. Last Gang sound-checked and their bassist and guitarist are probably the two friendliest band-persons I’ve ever met, letting us use their amps, helping us get the right sound, even tuning our guitars! Jamie came down and we soundchecked Get Outta My Head – fuck me! He’s nailed that song in 5 minutes, the beat, the stops, the changes!! – he said he’ll have the other 3 learnt with the half hour that we’re due on stage.
He wasn’t messing – a makeshift Braxton Hicks got on and slammed Never Kill Yourself, Macho Man, Gone Fishin’ and Get Outta My Head in ten minutes; not a beat misplaced! Plenty of bass notes all over the place though ha ha – but it was a great buzz.
Last Gang in Town, to be fair to them are the right band in the wrong place. They’re a covers band, a punk tribute band, which is fine if you’re at a party, or a wedding, but not at a punk gig where a real band could be playing. Despite this they belted out New Rose, Holidays In The Sun, Pretty Vacant, California Uber Alles, Alternative Ulster, If The Kids Are United etc etc, to much aplomb.
UK Subs are masters of their game. Was chatting with loudethanwar.com writer Phil Newall, and we both agreed they’re not just a punk band; there’s a lot of blues under-currents in those songs, which have been accentuated since early 80s bassist, Alvin Gibbs rejoined the ranks. The set is shorter than when I last saw them (at Rebellion – see review), but they are relentless and tight as fuck, only occasionally pausing for breath.
Braxton Hicks new drummer Jamie Oliver (heh-heh!) took on an added interest, and you are sometimes distracted from the man at the back when you’ve got legends like Charlie Harper and Alvin Gibbs upfront, flanked by the tireless and slick as fuck guitarist Jet. Yet Jamie is a machine and smashed that kit into the podium. Top class.
UK Subs tour relentlessly, from small back street clubs to huge arenas and festivals worldwide, and the one main thing about them is they keep it punk rock. There was/is no primadonna, holier-than-thou or an ounce of pretention about the UK Subs – you’re born a rocker, you die a rocker, you live on the road, you play your punk rock, you live your punk rock… I’m green with envy.
I was earlier reminding Charlie that I once put a gig on for them in Colwyn Bay in 1987 and the ‘guaranteed accomodation’ I offered was actually my living room floor! He raked his memory banks and quipped, ‘Was it at a bikers club?’ – He was almost right, I actually had the local Hells Angels do the security at the gig! Not a bad recollection when you consider he’s probably done something in excess of 5000 gigs since then. Here’s to the next 5000…